Surviving a Divorce: 8 Days of Expressive Writing

  Thursday, February 3, 2022

Love is intricate. We all want a love that transcends the typical bounds of human relationships, the kind that is reserved for poetry, music, and art. We want to be swept away into a whirlwind romance full of passion and excitement, spending our lives with that one person that makes us happy. We want a love that makes us stand on the edge of the Titanic. One which makes us write a letter for each of the 365 days of the year and stand outside the window of our loved one with a boom box blasting songs from the 90s. Most importantly and expectedly, we want it to last. 

Life isn't ideal, and neither is love. We want that perfect love story that lasts a lifetime, but sometimes it isn't meant to be. We can love someone and still not be happy in a relationship, or give a lot of love and get nothing in return. Real-world relationships need work and time. There needs to be an understanding amongst both parties involved, and there needs to be trust. Every relationship requires being kind and empathic towards the other person. It is a lot of work, and it doesn't always work out.

The Psychology of Relationship Conflicts

While the desire for human connection appears to be innate, we must learn the ability to build healthy, loving relationships. According to some evidence, the potential to create a stable relationship begins in infancy, during a child's first interactions with a caregiver who consistently provides the infant's needs for food, care, warmth, protection, stimulation, and social contact. Although such partnerships are not predestined, they are thought to establish profoundly established patterns of interpersonal interaction. However, the end of a relationship is frequently a source of tremendous psychological distress.

Infidelity is both the first and last straw for some couples. Still, a surprising number of relationships survive betrayal, only to be torn apart by everyday threats like a loss of interest in physical intimacy or a waning of positive feelings in the wake of constant criticism, contempt, or defensiveness. Even if a couple has been together for decades, there is no assurance that they will stay together.

Some people may walk away from a long marriage and feel immediately free. Others may have emotional anguish years after the end of a relationship that lasted only a few dates. A breakup, whatever it occurs, can be a severe stressor that impacts ego and self-esteem that cannot be overlooked.

What is the most common source of conflict between couples? According to polls, affection, communication, jealousy, sexual frequency, control, future plans, chores and obligations, secrets, and finances are all typical drivers of conflict. Experts claim that knowing what upset couples the most can help new partners prepare and remain together longer.

Criticism (questioning a spouse's integrity), disdain (acting superior to a partner), defensiveness (avoiding responsibility), and stonewalling are four main difficulties that psychologist John Gottman famously identified as the most likely to destroy a relationship (refusing to engage with issues). When bad encounters outnumber positive interactions, he claims, the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" have arrived, and a pair may perish.

Divorce And The U.S. 

The divorce rate in the United States reveals a lot about today's relationships. It's time to take a step back and look at the numbers regarding the divorce rate in America. That's because there's more to the percentage of marriages that end in divorce than meets the eye. Divorce statistics are famously flawed, making the question of the divorce rate in the U.S. far more complicated than it looks like in the first place. According to the most recent statistics from the 2019 American Community Survey, the divorce rate is 14.9 per 1,000 marriages, the lowest since 1970.

Another factor for the decline in divorce rates is fewer marriages to break up. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center research, the number of unmarried adults has reached an all-time high of 20%. In 1960, 68 percent of those were married; in 2008, only 26 percent were. Looking at previous Pew research, 3i9% of respondents believe marriage is now obsolete.

In other words, lower divorce rates don't necessarily indicate that millennials are succeeding in marriage; rather, marriage is evolving into a more specialized institution reserved for the wealthy. 

Surviving Your Breakup or Divorce 

Leaving a relationship, for whatever reason, is difficult and takes a toll on a person emotionally, and its effects can also be seen physically. If you're going through a breakup or a divorce, this time is critical, as it can make or break how you come out of this. People will often let it consume their thoughts and lives, making it difficult to move on and heal. In that case, the person may lose their confidence, sense of self and worth, and the ability to fall back in love again. 

Already having lost the person you love does not mean that you have to lose yourself. In fact, you can benefit from this experience as in any other situation. We learn the most about ourselves when we're put in situations that make us reevaluate ourselves, and that is a lesson like no other. What we have for you is eight days of self-reflection, where we will be discussing what steps you can take to help you overcome the sadness and pain you feel and, at the same time, learn more about the kind of person you are. You also have the opportunity to journal your thoughts down based on each lesson we provide you every day. Keeping your thoughts in one place will not only help you keep track of your progress but journaling it out will help you vent your frustrations and feelings in a productive and therapeutic manner. Journaling your thoughts and feelings about the breakup can be beneficial. People aren't always available when you need to express yourself, and some feelings or thoughts may be too personal to share with others. The process of writing out your sentiments can be incredibly liberating, and it can frequently provide you with a new perspective on things.

Day 1: Let Yourself Feel to Heal

Sadness, anger, uncertainty, resentment, jealousy, anxiety, and regret are just a few of the powerful and negative sentiments that commonly accompany a breakup. If you try to deny these feelings, you'll probably prolong the grieving process and perhaps get caught in it completely. 

Shock/denial, bargaining, anger, despair, and eventually acceptance are common phases of grief. Extreme grief appears to last an eternity, but we do not react in healthy ways. Several circumstances may likely exacerbate your negative feelings, including not being the one who chose to end the relationship.

  • Not anticipating the breakup.
  • This is your first long-term relationship.
  • Your only genuine close friend is your ex.
  • Continually bumping into your ex.
  • You felt whole or complete after the connection.
  • Your ex began dating someone right away.
  • Imagining your ex having sexual relations with their new lover.
  • Believing that your ex is the one person in the world who can make you happy.

 

Write down your feelings, whether they're negative or positive. It will help you determine where you stand at the beginning of your self-healing journey and provide you with a better understanding of your emotions. 

Day 2: Don't Personalize The Loss 

"Despite the fact that most states have passed no-fault divorce laws, fault and blame continue to play a large role in the ways that divorces develop," says author Sam Margulies Ph.D., Esq.

It's much more useful to think of the ending as the outcome of competing wants and incompatibilities that aren't anyone's fault. Each person in a relationship attempts to meet their own needs, and some people can assist each other in satisfying those needs, while others are not.

It's natural to blame oneself after a breakup, but don't dwell on the loss for too long. Much of the hurt of a breakup comes from blaming yourself for the breakup and regretting your decisions during that time. If you let it, this vicious cycle of self-blame can carry on indefinitely.

Here's a question for you: Is there anything regarding the relationship that you would have done differently if given another chance? Once you answer this question, you can better judge why your breakup or divorce is justified. 

Day 3: Self-Care is Necessary 

Even though you may be sad and depressed due to the breakup, self-care refers to ensuring that your basic needs are wholly satisfied. Even if you don't feel like eating, do so anyway and attempt to make good food choices. Allow plenty of time for sleep and rest, especially if this is difficult for you. Sleep deprivation will only make things worse. Maintaining or beginning an exercise plan might help you feel better physically and mentally. Keep in mind that exercise releases endorphins, making you feel better.

Because going through a breakup can cause upheaval in many areas of your life, sticking to your routines will provide you with a sense of stability and regularity.

Although temporarily removing certain expectations from yourself will help, returning to your daily routines soon after the breakup can help you calm down and regain control of your life. 

Journal in things in your diary that you believe will help you get out of this rut. Set a time and place for them to fit into your schedule. Not only will this help you get your mind off your situation, but it might also open other doors for you to pursue things that you didn't think of before. 

Day 4: Learn Your Lessons 

It's difficult to realize it when you're going through a traumatic breakup. Still, there areopportunities to develop and learn when you're going through an emotional crisis. You may be now experiencing nothing but emptiness and unhappiness in your life, but that doesn't indicate that things will never change. Consider this moment in your life a break, a chance to plant the seeds of new growth. You can learn more about yourself and feel stronger and wiser due to this experience.

Colette Bouchez, the author of seven women's health books, including Lifestyle Advice for the Best Years of Your Life, told WebMD that five key values might help you come to know yourself better. These values can help you figure out what you desire from a partner. You'll fully know yourself, according to Bouchez, if you grasp your emotional needs, establish your love pattern, test drive a potential relationship, and go in for a three-month checkup while you're dating. You'll know exactly what your heart and mind need and desires if you grasp your basic principles.

Questions to ask yourself: Take a step back and consider the big picture. What role did you play in the relationship's problems? Do you tend to make the same mistakes or choose the wrong person in each relationship? Consider how you react to stress and how you handle disagreement and insecurities. Is it possible for you to act more productively?

Day 5: Get Closure 

Social psychologist Arie Kruglanski created the term "need for closure" in the 1990s. Of course, you may never know the precise objective reason why things did not turn out as you had intended. Working out your thoughts and feelings, on the other hand, permits you to reach a satisfactory conclusion. That brings the story to a close. Even if you were the one who brought the relationship to an end, you need closure after a breakup. The closure is necessary because:

  • To make sense of what happened, your brain needs an honest narrative.
  • You may find yourself returning to a failed relationship if you don't get closure.
  • You can be bound to repeat the same relationship patterns repeatedly without ever getting closure.
  • Getting closure allows you to be your best self – and, when the time comes, a better future partner in a happier relationship.

Pen down all the questions you want to ask your ex. That'll help you remember what you want closure for but also help you gauge your satisfaction and complaints about the said relationship to help you during introspection. 

Day 6: Do A Social Media Cleanse 

When a split is still fresh, finding out what your ex is up to can set off a chain reaction of emotions. Block, mute, unfollow, and unfriend your ex—and any of their friends or family—on social media to spare yourself the anguish of experiencing their Life After You.

Keeping friends with an ex on Facebook was linked to a more difficult emotional recovery from a breakup and less personal growth, according to a 2012 study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, which surveyed 464 participants.

Question for you: Whether online or in-person, what goes through your mind when you see your ex? Does the feeling get better over time? 

Day 7: Go Out And Meet People 

"When you're grieving the loss of a relationship, reaching out and connecting with friends may be quite useful," says Jesse Kahn, LCSW, CST, director and sex therapist at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in NYC. He claims that chatting to someone who cares about you about the breakup and your current mental and emotional state might help you feel supported. "Those ties have the potential to be extremely nourishing."

However, be cautious about revealing every idea about your ex with your friends. According to Marianna Strongin, Psy.D., PLLC, a New York psychologist, Excessive chatting about your ex might hinder healing. "Make sure you're chatting about other issues, not linked to your ex, as well," Kahn advises. Trust each other; your friendship will benefit as a result. Making arrangements with your friends and family during a difficult time might help you avoid hermiting, which can stifle your growth.

Write about the people in your life that make you feel good about yourself. What do you appreciate them for? 

Day 8: Time Is Important 

It's impossible to say how long it will take you to get over an ex. The good news is that science says you will eventually. Researchers found that the more space you have after a breakup, the more emotionally you heal; according to a study published in the Review of General Psychology. They concluded by writing, "We have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives...it suggests people will recover; the pain will go away with time." 

"Try not to condemn yourself for how long it takes you to get over your ex," Kahn advises. Instead, take solace in the fact that you will not be this way forever.

Answer this: What has this journey of self-reflection taught me? How can I be a better person now, learning new things about myself?

When a relationship ends, it doesn't mean you wasted too much time with this person; there was a reason this person entered your life in the first place. Take advantage of this opportunity to rediscover yourself and appreciate the experiences you have together. While you may be upset right now (which is completely normal), you'll look back after you've learned from the breakup and realize that everything happened for a reason — and you'll be a stronger person as a result. Sign up with JournalOwl now to start your daily online journal, helping you through this process of self-discovery and reflection. 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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